Protestors hold an upside-down Canadian flag Monday morning. It was meant to be a distress signal.
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THUNDER BAY -- The prime minister has declared war on First Nations people, says the organizer of a local rally.
As part of the national Idle No More campaign, about 50 people gathered outside of the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development office on Fort William First Nation Monday morning to protest Bill C-45.
The omnibus bill, which passed third reading last week, has angered many First Nations and environmental groups who argue that the legislation will loosen regulations and erode Aboriginal rights.
First Nations leaders protested on Parliament Hill over the bill last week saying it was done without any consultation from their people.
“It gives testament to the disrespect that he has towards the nation-to- nation agreement,” local organizer Erin Bottle said. “It is an act of treason.”
Armed with drums, a wampum representing the 1764 Fort Niagara treaty and an upside-down Canadian flag, protesters entered the lobby of the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development office shouting “Idle No More” and singing.
Bottle said it’s time that people wake up, and that native and non-native people have a sacred duty to respect the nation-to-nation relationship.
“We agreed to live, to coexist together and to bury our hatchets of war. With what Stephen Harper is doing with the legislative assaults on our people it is an act of war,” Bottle said.
Bottle said all First Nations need to stand together now in unity and take drastic measures if needed.
“We can be a beautiful rose but we can also be a thorn in your side if we have to,” she said. “This is just the first wave. This is the beginning.”
Thousands of people across the country took part in similar rallies. More than 300 people gathered outside of the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg. A rally outside of MP Greg Rickford’s office in Kenora drew more than 100.
The Idle No More campaign was started by four women in Saskatchewan to raise awareness about the bill.
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